Rwanda: We Must Dismantle Barriers to True Gender Equality - First Lady

14 November 2019

First Lady Jeannette Kagame has said that while there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the challenges women face, there is an urgent need to break the barriers and other limitations they face in society.

This, she said, can help place women's leadership at the heart of the transformative global agenda.

Mrs. Kagame, who was speaking at a high-level dialogue, in Nairobi, Kenya, highlighted structural, social, religious and cultural barriers and stereotypes faced by women across communities where they live.

Similarly, the lack of resources and sometimes skills limit women from actively participating in leadership.

"We must break the cycle of the vicious poverty trap, and lack of proper education," she said.

"We must promote the self-esteem of women, while continuously engaging the men, who lack the sensitivity to respect the fundamental rights of women, to participate in decision making, at all levels," she added.

The First Lady was speaking to senior women leaders and other participants including youth and community leaders from across the globe, as part of the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

Mrs Kagame (second from right) on a panel discussion with other leaders during the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Nairobi yesterday

Mrs Kagame told participants that it was important to attain zero unmet need for family planning, maternal deaths, as well as violence and harmful practices against women and girls, including child marriage and female genital mutilation.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), indicates that globally around 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.

"We must work toward a mindset shift about women's rights over their own bodies, and their future," she said, adding that designing and implementing systems through which knowledge is imparted to individuals is also critical.

She also suggested that countries should ensure that women get comprehensive medical care and follow up pregnancy services, and that countries needed innovative health financing policies to make those services accessible,

On Gender-Based Violence and harmful practices, Mrs Kagame stated that through "the loud, 'silence' around GBV acts, we perpetuate the perverse effects of impunity, not to mention the psycho-social consequences on the victims."

Strong leadership at the highest level as political will, strong institutions and legal frameworks and strong human resource capacity are some of the prerequisites mentioned by the First Lady to ensure gender mainstreaming.

"Let us all further dismantle the barriers to true gender equality, while envisioning the immense possibilities of women's self-actualisation," she noted.

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